SIERRA LEONE GOVERNMENT
APC inciting ethnic violence in Sierra Leone
The attention of the Government of Sierra Leone has been drawn to a Press Release widely circulated on social media, dated 28th December 2018, authored by Osman Foday Yansanaeh, Secretary-General of the All People’s Congress. Government notes with deep disappointment that at a time the nation is transitioning into the new year with a great deal of optimism, and Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad convinced that with the milestone accomplishments and critical steps already registered by the New Direction administration, Sierra Leone is indeed on the right trajectory, a handful of self-serving individuals think they could subvert the people’s aspirations in their quest to escape democratic accountability.
The pith and substance of the rather diabolic, sinister and inflammatory press release seeks to generate hate and disaffection towards the Commission of Inquiry, to instigate and/or afford persons of interest to the commission the opportunity to escape justice on the eve of the commencement of the commissions in January 2019. Apart from the naked trademark-appeal to tribalism and regional sentiments in the release, government views with serious concern a portion of the release in the fourth paragraph as follows:
“The APC reiterates its position that former APC appointed Ministers
And Heads of Department and Agencies will not subject themselves
to any kangaroo court Commissions of Inquiry which are clearly a
targeted witch-hunt against North Westerners and senior APC officials…”
We wish to inform all and sundry that the APC is not on trial, and there has never been an attempt by the Bio-led administration to persecute anybody. For instance, the ongoing recovery of public funds by the Anti-Corruption Commission from officials who served under the former APC Government, clearly demonstrates that the fight against corruption is not a witch-hunt. Rather, there was widespread corruption, and some of those involved are taking responsibility by returning stolen public funds which will be used to provide essential services for the citizens.
The purpose of the commissions is clear as spelt out in the three constitutional instruments recently passed in parliament. Government is seriously concerned that even though 81 percent of Sierra Leoneans overwhelmingly support the institution of the commissions of inquiry, a small group of paranoid former APC officials are hell bent to derail the commissions even before they commence work in January. Government similarly notes that the APC rank and file have clearly and unequivocally assumed full responsibility for the advice contained in the release, and therefore government and the people of Sierra Leone, as well as the international community have taken sufficient notice and record of that advice. Let it therefore be noted that Government will hold the APC leadership including its Chairman and Leader, to bear the greatest responsibility for any such invited ethnic violence. Accordingly, the Government will invite the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute the APC leadership for fanning the embers of ethnic violence or xenophobia.
It is important to note further the recommendations of the Governance Transition report, Cabinet indeed approved the same, pursuant to which Constitutional Instruments Nos 64, 65 and 67 were laid before the House of Parliament. The said instruments were sufficiently debated; a motion by the APC seeking a declaration of nullity of the instruments woefully failed even when the APC thought they had the preponderance of votes; and the instruments upon maturity eventually became law. What more critical tests will the APC require; and so all APC has decided to give the majority of Sierra Leoneans as our new year’s gift is a press release calling on former state functionaries to shun legal and well-established processes of accountability all in the name of protecting those who have been allegedly involved in broad daylight robbery and believe they will be held above the law.
We wish to use this opportunity to inform the moral guarantors of our hard won peace that the APC is threatening to incite ethnic violence and undermine the hard won peace and security the current peace and security, reverse our economic gains, plunge our people into more hardship and bring back the sad echoes of war which the whole country has gladly forgotten. In the same vein, we wish to draw the attention of civil society and other pro- democracy institutions to remind the APC that democracy is not just about the holding of periodic elections, but it’s also about democratic accountability.
Finally, we wish to assure all sierra Leoneans that while we remain committed to a free, fair, transparent and credible commission of inquiry, we will not allow anyone in whatever guise to toil with our national peace and security as this country has suffered for far too long. We are therefore calling on all peace loving Sierra Leoneans to reject any calls to participate in any forms of demonstration without authorization from the appropriate authorities as any breach of public peace will be appropriately dealt with and those involved will face the full force of the law.
*Commissions of Inquiry are not strictly judicial tribunals as it is the case with Courts of Law.
*Whilst Courts of Law can reach guilty or not-guilty verdicts, or establish liability or not in civil cases; Commissions of Inquiry are investigative mechanisms which make recommendations and forward same to the authority establishing them.
*Whilst procedures and practice in the High Court may be applicable to Commissions of Inquiry, yet, the rules of evidence are not strictly applied, and this enables the Commission to carry out its work in a speedy and just manner.
MOHAMED RAHMAN SWARAY
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS.